While many commercial building owners and operators today deploy wireless Wi-Fi infrastructure inside their facilities, their network services are incomplete without cellular coverage. Cellular can be faster, more reliable, more secure, and more comprehensive than just having Wi-Fi alone, according to Lucas.
One challenge is that Wi-Fi devices must be close to an access point, and there can be problems with traffic congestion and interference. And as good as Wi-Fi speeds might be, they are dependent on the fiber network that is serving the building. There can be bottlenecks if these networks aren’t configured correctly. Furthermore, commercial-grade fiber is costly and connections are sometimes limited.
Perhaps the biggest concern about depending too much on Wi-Fi is that the technology can be an easy target for security threats. It’s well known that Wi-Fi can be vulnerable to intruders, Lucas says.
For the development of smart buildings, when cellular and Wi-Fi are compared, cellular clearly rises to the top. That’s why it needs to be the key part of the wireless plan when building owners and operators begin investing in infrastructure for their smart buildings. And this is something they need to balance with the ongoing effort to make buildings more environmentally friendly.
“Unfortunately, new energy-efficient buildings that are great in conserving resources like power and water are absolutely terrible for general connectivity….in some ways, buildings are almost too good at keeping the outside signal outside,” says Lucas. Green buildings that are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified are usually bad at bringing signals in, he says.